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Nationally, Homeland Security has the power to hold, question and search suspected terrorists, and yet the American homeland remains vulnerable to those among our own citizens who are psychotic, not religiously motivated, and can buy guns more readily than Sudafed. It’s time America looks up to Canada, where anyone can own a gun, but licensing is properly managed with a process that takes weeks, requires applicants to show up in person and includes background checks and a personal safety-training course.
In 2012, Canada, had 172 gun homicides. The U.S., with 314 million people, had 6,371, four times as many per-capita. There are mass killings in Canada, including two mass stabbings this year by mentally ill persons, but far fewer than in the US. A big reason why is that Canada provides mental health care, and drugs and financial support, for all its residents, and enforces proper gun controls to protect the public.
Canada catches mentally ill people in its health care net, because it has one. Rodger would almost surely have been turned down for a gun license in Canada, given his history, and if he had posted threats online, he would likely have been taken to a hospital by police and kept there for diagnosis. There is the key misunderstanding between gun-control advocates and the wide swath of voters they need on their side: Americans are OK with guns. They don’t like violence. They don’t like guns in the hands of mad men and criminals, or shoved in their faces in restaurants and shopping centers, but they’re alright and comfortable with guns.
Too many Americans have no access and cannot afford help or medications, a hole budget cuts have widened. Canada also has a larger share of psychiatrists than America, and the number is rising in the Great White North even as it’s declining south of the border. What’s annoying is the Second Amendment nonsense spouted by the NRA and its allies. As my social studies teacher once explained about liberty and its responsibilities, freedom is the right to swing your arm but not to hit anybody else with it. There has been a push lately among state legislatures for laws that allow police to confiscate the weapons of those deemed a danger to themselves or others. Connecticut recently adopted such a statute, and there are similar considerations in California and New Jersey. It’s exactly the kind of measure that finds purchase in the wake of specific tragedies but will do little to prevent the kinds of spontaneous crimes and impulsive suicides that make up the vast majority of gun deaths.
This applies to everything in life except, in the United States, guns. The right to bear arms by militias, established in the 18th century, has been stretched and corrupted by litigators and inept judges to effectively allow anyone anywhere in the US to use semiautomatic weaponry at will. Americans are not so much more violent than Canadians. They are just far more likely to use guns, which account for nearly three-fifths of all murders in the US, compared to just one-third north of the border, and thus far more likely to see violent incidents end with fatal results.
Americans, like Canadians, realize that guns, like cars or prescription drugs, should be carefully regulated and licensed. No one should shoot a gun, or drive a car, without proving to the public he or she can safely and responsibly do so. Perhaps Americans need Homeland Security to protect them from craven commercial interests, incompetent politicians and government officials as well as terrorists.